A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Presidential Dollar Facts

Sometimes when you try something for the first time, you make boo-boos …

In 2005 the Presidential Coin Act was introduced by Senator John E. Sununu. The act was intended to create a dollar coin to honor each deceased president. Also, the coin was meant to spurn interest and usage of dollar coins in circulation. Late in 2005 President George W. Bush signed the act into law.

2007 saw the first set of Presidential Dollars. These dollars were released four per year, each showing a different president. The presidents were depicted sequentially, George Washington displayed on the first coin. Or, on most of them he was. There were a few of these coins were released devoid of anything but a stamped rim.

An interesting point in that these were the first coins to have words and images struck on the SIDE of the coin. This was apparently very difficult for the mint and the number of errors in the minting of these coins is amazing.

The numismatic word for lettering or images struck into a coin is incuse. On the first Presidential Dollars, the year of mintage, mint mark, phrase “E Pluribus Unum” and motto “In God We Trust” was on the side of the coins. The purpose for this was to create more space on the obverse and reverse of the coin. This allowed, among other things, for the term of the president to be displayed on the obverse. When you read about these coins, you may see the term “Godless Dollar” referring to the early Presidential Dollars. This illustrates the misgivings people had for the motto being relegated to the side. In 2009 “In God We Trust” returned to the obverse of the dollar.

Some Presidential Dollars were struck without the incuse on the side. There are three key dates to look for, as these are more valuable.

  • 2007 Washington – Missing Edge Lettering
  • 2007 J Adams – Missing Edge Lettering
  • 2007-P J Adams – Double Edge Lettering

Knowing that the Presidential Dollars with the missing incuse get a higher price, some machinists will remove it and polish the coin up so as to hide their nefarious trick. This fraud will not survive inspection. Upon magnification, the alterations become clear.

Not only did the mint have trouble with the incuse on the side, but the clad layer on the coin was also troublesome. Many of the Presidential Dollars were minted improperly and are missing the top clad gold color they are supposed to have. The darker Presidential Dollar commands a much higher price in numismatic circles. (Note that I said gold color and not gold metal. Presidential Dollars are mostly copper and often have a melt value of less than five cents.)

The number of mint errors observable on the Presidential Dollar could fill an encyclopedia. You can’t assume that because your Presidential Dollar has odd things on it that it is worth more. As a collector, you want to know which of those boo-boos increase the value of the coin as opposed to just looking funny or being a conversation starter. To assist in this, I have included an article in the REFERENCES section below, called ” The Spruce Crafts – Presidential Dollar Error Coin Gallery.”

One thing to note is that the incuse on the side of the coin may be stamped with the top of the lettering closest to the obverse OR closest to the reverse. There was no particular way the coins were fed into the incuse stamping machine. Some collectors look for this and may value one more than the other. Or, they may wish to collect both. But, it’s important to know that this is not a mint error.

Artistically, the Presidential Dollars were the first to show the presidents in positions other than profile. On the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Dollar, he looks straight at you. The image of John F. Kennedy looking down came from a family painting, where he was looking down to speak to his children. Ronald Reagan is laughing, as he often did for photos.

A few Reverse Proof Presidential Dollars were coined. Remember, the reverse proof has the face and other devices mirrored and the background frosted. These don’t see large mintages and are vary valuable.

  • 2015-P Truman Rev. Proof
  • 2015-P Eisenhower Rev. Proof
  • 2015-P Johnson Rev. Proof
  • 2015-P Kennedy Rev. Proof
  • 2016-P Reagan Rev. Proof

Should Andrew Johnson have been on a Presidential Dollar? He was impeached. Should Richard Nixon have been on a Presidential Dollar? He resigned. The writers of the Presidential Dollar Coin Act felt so. Perhaps they did this to avoid political ideas from entering into the process of who deserves a coin. A devout member of a political party may feel that only presidents of that party should have a coin. Or, if the president’s term was less than stellar they shouldn’t get a coin. MANY ideas could enter into this arena. It can seen why they chose to honor them all indiscriminately.

It may interest you to know that First Ladies are also immortalized onto coins as part of the Presidential Dollar Coin Act. These are called “Spouses Coins” and minted in gold. Mamie Eisenhower, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan and others are included in this line.

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